Here Comes the Story of a Hurricane: Dylan and the Literary Revolution of 2016

ede750815b1ea83632b734eed7e9e989The year gone by created more throbbing voids in our hearts than did an entire season of Gilmore Girls. We were, with an utmost cruelty, left to live in a world where David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, George Michael and Carrie Fisher no longer existed. But before the countdown to midnight began on New Year’s Eve and I merrily drank to celebrate the end of a devastating year, I itched to continue searching for that one bright, sparkling moment in 2016 that, in the years ahead, would perhaps make me look back and say, “Aw, c’mon. It wasn’t all that bad.” And that moment, as I realised upon some late night contemplation, was a couple of months ago in October when my phone screen came alive and flashed the news alert: “Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize, Redefining Boundaries of Literature”.

Articles commenting on the controversy surrounding the Prize washed over my Facebook News Feed in the days to follow, drowning out every other piece of news. I, however, sat feeling warm and tingly in my toes, experiencing the same satisfaction one gets when they consume a melted cheese fondue. The week before the grand announcement, I’d shut myself in my bedroom with the new U2 album Songs of Innocence on full blast. I’d been comparing the album’s song lyrics to the poetry of William Blake, published in a volume by the same name which had inspired the band. U2, in the manner of Blake, as I observed, had talked about living in a world of corruption, child abuse and religious oppression while still desperately attempting to clutch onto a thin ray of hope. “Why could I not analyse this modern take on romantic poetry for my college assessment?” I’d wondered out loud. I would’ve produced a thesis-level paper if given the chance. Despite the academic work being done on Dylan, the controversy surrounding Dylan’s prize symptomatises the still existing gap between popular music/culture and ‘literature’. The truth is that song lyrics, like accepted forms of literature through the ages, are (and have always been) reflective of society’s moods, fears, anxieties, hopes, flaws, and are inextricably linked to culture and social change. Lyrics are poetry, waiting to be read and analysed. When studied independently of the various guitar riffs and drumming patterns that accompany them, lyrics will find their way of tugging at your heartstrings, burrowing into your thoughts, and carving a space for themselves within you. So when the news of Dylan broke, I heaved a sigh of relief, for this marked a new literary revolution – a revolution which brought music and literature together and gave lyricists the same credibility as poets and authors. It was a revolution which, in one great leap, closed a major gap between high art and low-brow commercial art.

Dylan’s music in the roaring 1960s was an integral part of the Beat Generation culture. His hobo character and song lyrics about his travels across the country attracted masses of people to the vagabond, “on the road” lifestyle previously popularised by Jack Kerouac. His music was also in tune with the “hippie movement” which started in retaliation to America’s intervention in the Vietnam War, and through his lyrics, he popularised ideals of peace, love, humanity and spirituality as against the turmoil of American capitalism and the breakdown of values. Take, for instance, the anthem Blowin’ in the Wind where he asked the pertinent question – “how many times must the cannon balls fly before they’re forever banned?” – a direct remark on the brutality of Uncle Sam and the terror of a war-inflicted world. Using the universal symbol of the “white dove” in the same song, he encouraged a harmonious living, and with the references to wind, sand, mountains, sea and sky, he proposed a reconnect with nature in order to find “the answer” to life’s miseries – “the answer” which was “blowin’ in the wind”. Similarly, in the song Mr. Tambourine Man, he commented on the squalor of big cities, the disintegration of values, and his dissatisfaction with the uptight middle classes, much like Charles Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot did in their poetry. The lines from Baudelaire’s Anywhere Out of the World “Let us go farther still to the extreme end of the Baltic; or farther still from life, if that is possible… At last my soul explodes, and wisely cries out to me: “No matter where! No matter where! As long as it’s out of the world!” anticipate Dylan’s hashish-fuelled lyrics from Mr. Tambourine Man – “Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind, down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves, the haunted frightened trees, out to the windy bench, far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow”. Dylan also critiqued the division of humans into the proletariat and the bourgeois amidst capitalism-driven chaos and in the song All Along the Watchtower, re-named these groups as the “Joker” and the “Thief” respectively. In the song, the Joker’s remark to the Thief – “There must be some kind of way outta here […] there’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief” – is reflective of the working class’s oppression and embittering experiences in the modern world. Echoing Langston Hughes’ lamentation of “a dream deferred” in the poem Harlem, Dylan wrote of missed opportunities and hopeless lives of the lowest rung crowd in society in the song Subterranean Homesick Blues. And taking inspiration from war poets like Wilfred Owen, he wrote A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall about the threat of nuclear apocalypse. Clearly, all movements of social change and politics filtered into Dylan’s songs. He is a literary genius who compiled his thoughts into unforgettable ballads with a deep, meditative murk. It is no surprise then, that upon his literary accomplishment, Rolling Stones magazine recognised him as “as timeless as a 1600s Scotch border ballad and as visionary as Isaiah”.

Dylan’s lyrics were more important to him than the tunes he composed to accompany them and with every song, he attempted to tell a story and to connect to the people on a personal level. He incorporated more poetic devices and techniques into his lyrics than did any other musician of his generation. He took inspiration from the theatre of Bertolt Brecht and commenting on his reaction upon seeing the theatre performances said, “My little shack in the universe was about to expand into some glorious cathedral, at least in songwriting terms.” Brecht’s song sequences particularly fascinated Dylan – “I took the song apart and unzipped it – it was the form, the free verse association, the structure and disregard for the known certainty of melodic patterns to make it seriously matter, give it its cutting edge.” To create his own lyrical ballads, Dylan also closely examined the elementary poetry of past songwriters such as the American blues legend Robert Johnson. “Johnson’s words made my nerves quiver like piano wires,” Dylan later wrote. “The free association that he used, the sparkling allegories, big-ass truths wrapped in the hard shell of nonsensical abstractions.” Dylan associated himself closely with the proto-surrealist Arthur Rimbaud, adopting his ambiguous use of words, phrasing and context, at once literal and abstract, and also embraced the maddened, opium-induced Romantic-era poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

In spite of these allusions, references, inspirations and commentaries, however, audiences questioned Bob Dylan’s literary prowess when he won the Nobel Prize. People contested the notion of a songwriter as a poet. A New York Times article, condemning the Nobel committee’s decision, claimed – “when the Nobel committee gives the literature prize to a musician, it misses the opportunity to honour a writer.” But that’s exactly where the problem lies. Firstly, the committee did not award Bob Dylan the ‘musician’. It awarded Bob Dylan the ‘writer’ for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. Bob Dylan was, and has always been, an accomplished writer in terms of his lyrics. His literary brilliance was further cemented and acknowledged worldwide when The Oxford Book of American Poetry included his song Desolation Row, in its 2006 edition, and Cambridge University Press released The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan in 2009. Secondly, on what basis does one declare the art of song-writing as inferior to other literary forms? Blindly overlooked is the fact that song-writing requires the same effort and careful consideration as does the writing of a poem, a play or a short story. It is the meticulous act of picking one’s brain, delving into the recesses of the heart and mind, and pouring one’s thoughts and emotions out on paper. And thirdly, when (and why in the world) did we begin separating songs from poetry in the first place? Those Greek and Sanskrit epics that we worship as part of the literary canon – were they not written as verses intended to be sung aloud? What is a song but a few lines of poetry with an insistent beat or rhythm added to it? If literature is defined as the written word representative of culture, society and tradition of a language, then song lyrics qualify as literature. The text of song lyrics can be decoded using literary theory, with a mythological, sociological, psychological or historical approach. In fact, the text of song lyrics must be decoded, for like other forms of literature, they reflect social attitudes and help construct a blueprint of human civilisation.

Dylan isn’t of course the only artist to have inspired generations through words and attempted social commentary. Back in the early 20th century, the artistic explosion of the Harlem Renaissance (also known as the New Negro Movement) brought forth African-American jazz and blues musicians whose lyrics revealed a celebration of their black identities. After enduring centuries of racism, the African-American community now took up the cause of reigniting cultural pride through their music. This was visible in the song lyrics of Billie “Lady Day” Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and Willie “The Lion” Smith. In the 1960s, Pink Floyd produced countless songs about the post-war trauma after the Second World War. The band’s lyricist and vocalist Roger Waters had watched his father die at the hands of the Nazis, and this memory of his troubled childhood led him to write lyrics like “Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter, when the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?” in the song Goodbye Blue Sky. Similarly, in a fit of rage against the American armed forces in the Vietnam War, the heavy metal band Black Sabbath sang, “Politicians hide themselves away, they only started the war. Why should they go out to fight, they leave that role to the poor,” in the song War Pigs. Metal and rock bands of the 80s and early 90s wrote passionately against religious oppression of the church. Iron Maiden openly mocked the church with satanic lyrics in Number of the Beast – “The ritual has begun, Satan’s work is done. 666, the number of the beast, sacrifice is going on tonight.” In recent times, punk rock bands like Green Day started a modern revolution against American imperialism, and through albums like American Idiot, expressed the disillusionment of a generation that grew up in tumultuous times shaped by events like the Iraq War.

Can we really afford to overlook all of these literary endeavours just because they fall under the category of mainstream music and not “proper” or “refined” literature? Song lyrics need to be examined more closely and critically. There is sophistication and a carefully cultivated aesthetic in the ideas propounded by musicians through their lyrics. And not giving lyricists their due credit as contributors to literature would be one of the grossest mistakes the human race could make. Luckily enough, however, after the decision of the Nobel committee, the para-literature created by lyricists and music artists would perhaps be taken more seriously. Song lyrics truly are, and have always been, an undervalued genre of literature reflective of the human condition. What I wish to lay particular emphasis on here is the fact that the inclusion of songwriters into the literary hall of fame in no way dilutes the institution of literature; it only evolves and enhances it. The act of writing and producing literary masterpieces is still as sacrosanct as it has always been, and broadening the scope of literature is always in our benefit. Dylan’s literary accomplishment is therefore a step forward in bringing together popular culture and canonical literature in the modern age; a step which has been long overdue. The times they are a-changin’, and thank heavens for that!

(Note – This article was published in ‘Bitacora’, Vol. 2 – the literary magazine of Gargi College, University of Delhi)

Of thoughts that dissolved into sea foam

FullSizeRenderGrains of sand slipped and shuffled under my bare feet while my hands juggled the plastic fork pitched into a piece of chicken 65 and my tumbler of piping hot filter coffee. An unusual combination of course, but the flavours blended beautifully on my tongue as I tasted the spices of South India for the first time. It had rained ceaselessly all day and the clouds shrouding the sky now left Kapu Beach in near blackness, with only the lighthouse glowing faintly and the white horses crashing against the shore of the Arabian Sea glinting as they dissolved into the sand. 

My eyes refused to shift away from the book I was reading in the dim light of the beach shack – The Guide by R.K. Narayan – a tattered, wilting old thing with yellowed pages and a musty smell. A petty criminal and former tourist guide recently released from jail, mistaken to be a holy man and a spiritual guide, was what Narayan described. A story skimming the surface of South India as I sat submerged in its delights. The setting seemed far too poetic, estranged from my daily scuffle in the blazing sun back home in Delhi.

Taking another sip of my coffee, I looked up for a moment and paused to wonder. From a mere tourist guide to a spiritual guide just by mumbling banal sentences like, “What must happen must happen; no power on earth or in heaven can change its course just as no one can change the course of that river” and “What can a crocodile do to you if your mind is clear and your conscience is untroubled?”. A teensy bit far-fetched, is what I decided to categorise the story as. Why, I could become a mahatma too, if only it were that easy. I’d gotten pretty good at giving out advice lately. I’d learnt to counter sexism with Virginia Woolf, racism with Edward Said, utilitarianism with Dickens and emotional complexes with Freud. I had gone so far as to mentally compare America’s world domination to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, in anticipation that its nuclear weapons would make it annihilate its own self. I’d also snobbishly equated the posh, designer-clothed, blonde-streaked, Starbucks-sipping youth of India’s metropolises to Marie Antoinette who who couldn’t differentiate between the economic value of breads and cakes. 

It’s as if opinions and arguments lay whirring in a corner of my brain, bubbling and fizzing, waiting to be expounded as worldly knowledge. If someone were to talk to me about Marxism versus capitalism, I’d say, “It’s a continuous cycle. As one ideology starts to fade, the other grows stronger until it dies out again.” On the subject of the Internet engulfing the new generation, I’d say, “Well, I believe only a few decades ago people had similar things to say about the Industrial Revolution, but it all turned out okay in the end.” I’d probably even pass Shakespeare’s pastoral comedies off as children’s bedtime stories with happy endings, and claim that his tragedies were the real deal, wrapped in harsh truths of the world. In discussions on religion and spirituality, I’d say, “Yes, we live in a kalyug. We will not live to see the world return to the kritayug, but there will once again come a day when greed will die out.”

“Out, damned spot!” I muttered sheepishly as I stained my book with coffee and scalded my tongue, coming back to my senses after being enveloped with thoughts of being revered as the Chosen One. “Hmph. Serves me right, I reckon.” I dusted my book off and scrambled back towards my family waiting near the car. 

The taste of curry leaves compliments strong coffee perfectly. That’s only real advice I’d be equipped to offer for now.

Lost…and Found

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I spent one year with a creative block. One complete year. And that’s equivalent to a life sentence for someone who used to write on a daily basis.
Lately, I’ve felt that it was time to snap out of it. And the best way to come out of a writer’s block was to write about it. So I did.
This is my first piece of writing since:

“Where art thou?”
I’d say if I were the daughter of Capulet.
Though not in search of a lover, of course;
One doesn’t magically find them under a balcony on a moonlit night.
For if they did, that first question would pass as unwarranted.
Would it not?

But I’m no Capulet.
And it’s not an electrifying Montague that I seek.
So I mentally embark to find that significant other-
My Muse, so to say. How many times do I close my weary eyes,
And count to a hundred before I can run along and tag her?
That bitch is hard to catch.

“Write drunk.”
“And edit sober!” they said, all the wiseguys.
It took me five pints of beer to realise that those unsolicited advice-givers
Ate, slept and worked with their muses beside them, sunrise to sunset.
Another couple of bottles o’ rum to discover-
My Muse was mine alone.

More prompts ensued.
“Turn up some Bach.” “Buy yourself some diva heels.”
“That’ll buoy you right up!” I must pause and tell you what I learned:
Bach’s muse died three hundred and odd years before mine did.
Heeled pumps make your soles weep harder than souls.
And my Inspiration – still AWOL.

Could I perhaps,
Leave out some treats, set up a cage, watch and wait for
Those squawking preening sparks to flutter and nestle into my brain?
That old vibrant flock of stimuli that had once pecked at my heartstrings.
I wept for them now; their wings had been clipped.
And I’d run out of treats.

What if –
What if, maybe, I tried to put that all together?
I lay wearing my most uncomfortable stilettos, with alcohol in my bloodstream,
And a seventeenth-century orchestra turned up  to full on my earphones.
She came to me then – “Fool!” she said. “Look in thy heart and write!”
And vanished again.

– Arushi Mathur ©
4/10/2015

I Got 99 Problems, But My Burrito Ain’t One.

Enter 2015 and I have one question for my readers – just how great are burritos?

No, not the burritos that are made up of soft chicken breast pieces and jalapenos dressed in layers of sour cream and salsa, topped with cheddar cheese and enveloped in warm heart melting tortillas.

I’m talking about the one which includes a very quivering me bundled up in four layers of clothing, topped with gloves and knee-length stockings, and carefully wrapped in a number 5 IKEA quilt. Throw in countless cups of piping hot chocolate milk, an oil heater, a constantly dripping nose, and you’ve got yourself a factual description of my weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. Absolutely adore it. It’s just that I have different visions of it. Winter makes sense when you’re somewhere up in a cottage in a Swiss chalet where you can sit in an armchair watching the snowfall through the window. And where a fire blazes while a Benedict Cumberbatch look-alike pours out two glasses of red wine.

Unfortunately, I’m denied each one of those beautiful things. So my coping mechanism evolves into curling up into a fetal position and initiating a live-in relationship with my bed.

So while I drift into a semi-hibernation state, feel free to donate any woolens which may contribute as burrito filling.

Fondues, leather jackets and decoding Tagore.

I’m finally returning to this blog after months. Because as always, a flood of creative ideas and expressions has come gushing towards me right when my exams are round the corner. That’s one bit that hasn’t changed even though I’ve sort of undergone metamorphosis in the past few months. So quick update, I made it to college (I deserve a slow clap), and now I’m finally rounding up with the end of the first semester. And also I’m turning 19 in five days. Seriously, WHERE DID MY CHILDHOOD GO?

Moving on. We’re halfway into the best month of the year.

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November is also ‘Fun With Fondue Month’ according to Foodimentary. I’ve successfully maintained my unique streak and celebrated it in my own off-beat way:

STEP 1: Ship parents off to Holland.
STEP 2: Ensure that they procure a fondue set complete with a multitude of fancy and expensive cheeses.
STEP 3: Send for parents to come home and bring back Dutch goodness.
STEP 4: Admire fondue set and cheeses at home.
STEP 5: Exile fondue set to the top-most kitchen shelf.
STEP 6: Waste fancy and expensive cheeses on grilled toasts for school tiffin.
STEP 7: Crave cheese fondue.

November marks the dawn of the glorious leather jacket weather. Needless to say, I have some exceptionally high expectations from my own leather jacket hanging in the closet, desperately awaiting a night out. I demand a infinite increase in my swag level, a look that screams “I’m best friends with Madonna”, and the complimentary Joan Jett attitude.

I’ve also been reading a lot of Tagore this month. Being an English lit. major demands of you that sort of high-end intellectual exploration. I have not, however, been able to maintain a clear sense of purpose. You see, I have this habit of endlessly daydreaming of the marvelous lives of other literary characters.

I always start off apt and pen-poised, trying to make sense of cultural identities in ‘The Home and The World’. “Bimala is a devout housewife who wishes to embody the ‘Sati Savitri’ ideology prevalent in the early 20th century,” I ponder. And then Alice interjects, “Curiouser and curiouser.”  But I guess one can’t really blame her. She’s been quite dazed ever since she followed the White Rabbit down the cubby hole.

“Okay focus. Concentrate,” I instruct myself. “Tagore wants to battle the social injustices.” And with that, I transform into Achilles. Armour clad and glorious, I raise my sword to lead the Trojan army while the air resounds with war cries. “This can’t be right. Tagore was a humanist. No violence please,” I say. 

And then I spend the next few minutes with Prince Hamlet and his father’s apparition on the rocky shores of Denmark. Macbeth’s three witches come in for a special appearance. And when it finally gets too surreal to handle, I give up and wait for Rhett Butler to carry me off in his horse-carriage into the snowy-white cotton plantations of Atlanta. 

While I work on my inner stability, enjoy the rest of November. Ciao :*

Just in case you didn’t know.

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  1. I’m passionate about saving the environment. I will kick your ass if you don’t switch off the lights and turn off the water taps.
  2. I have a tendency to form strong emotional bonds with people very quickly.
  3. I have a small carton under my bed filled with birthday cards, old hand-written letters, and other tid-bits which have been part of all the memorable events in my life.
  4. I have billion dollar business idea which I’m going to work towards under any circumstances.
  5. The only music I listen to is rock (all forms) and indie.
  6. I have trouble expressing emotions.
  7. I have wild curly hair which refuses to behave itself.
  8. No matter how corny it sounds, I still maintain that the novel Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott changed me as a person.
  9. I am obsessed with (and extremely proud of) my heritage, traditions and family lineage.
  10. I will publish my set of writings some day.
  11. I don’t think I will ever learn how to swim, whistle or make round chapatis.
  12. I painted stuff all over my room despite the fact that I suck at art.
  13. My favourite band is Coldplay.
  14. Once upon a time, I used to give a damn about what people thought of me.
  15. I absolutely detest being a girl.
  16. I earnestly wish I were born in 1950 so that I could’ve attended the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
  17. I look forward to Diwali shopping and festivities more than anything else the whole year round.
  18. I have been eating buttered toast dipped in chai as a staple breakfast ever since I learned how to consume solid food. And I never tire of it.
  19. My one and only aim in life right now is to travel the world.
  20. I have cleanliness OCD. I can not, for the life of me, bear to see my space all messy.

 

Bollywood Essentials

We are Indian. We are Bollywood fanatics. And hence, we like our Badnam Munnis, Sexy Sheilas, Halkat Jawanis, Chikni Chamelis and Badmaash Bablis sunny side up. This, my fellow plebeians, is the unfortunate truth; and you’d better believe it. We are simply parched without our virgins decked with makeup, complete with Godrej Kaali Mehndi and moving their torsos to the booty-shaking anthem of the year.

Just imagine a world without item numbers. Nope, I can’t. It’s way too disturbing. And somehow these sublime women can’t be replaced by our glorious, hair-plugged, middle aged Salman, Aamir and Shahrukh either. A Bollywood movie is considered a hit only if firstly, there are more pirated DVDs and black tickets sold than originals. Secondly, all cheap box offices must be overflowing with moustached, potbellied men whistling and dancing away to the song tracks. Thirdly, the promotional poster must make you stare at it in awestruck wonder and go, “uffff.” And this is only possible if the movie promises a view of an Indian demigoddess in all her majesty and splendour.

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Although the Dil Dhadak revolution began long ago with Helen as Mehbooba and Zeenat Aman as Laila, the legacy of course lives on. There is a hint of a promise, a sense of assurance that lingers on – that you, too, will one day discover a fair maiden who miraculously happens to be your soulmate. And then you will rescue her from an obviously grotesque but ambitious villain who wants to conquer the world. And in doing so, you will face blistering winds and scorching deserts so that in the end, the damsel in distress belongs to you forever. This is what earns the industry the big bucks – the false set of illusions one starts to believe in as destiny.

So to conclude my ramblings, Bollywood needs item numbers like a breath of fresh air. Without them, we are as good as doomed.

Clutch, first gear, accelerate, and stop.

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Dear lovely people gallivanting at 6a.m. on my street,

Do you honestly not see the bold red ‘L’ sign painted on my Santro? Must you ALWAYS come in my way while I hopelessly attempt to drive my car in the third gear? 

This is for all you Early Birds out for a stroll while still attached to your cell phones. You simply cannot insist on marching along at 20 kmph, head down, brain sucked into the sanity vortex generated by your Blackberries, and then expect me not to ram into you. Seriously, just watch where I’m going. 

Also you senior citizens, I have nothing but respect for your worldly knowledge. But I do not respect how often you randomly come to a standstill in the middle of the road to simply ponder over the world’s glory and smack your lips. I sincerely promise you that one can just as easily ponder over the world’s glory and smack one’s lips on the sidewalk. Please spare the roads for purposes similar to mine. 

For those of you out there walking your mutts, kindly ensure that they are leashed, and more importantly, that they do not relieve themselves near my beautiful car tires. 

And to my wonderfully dedicated teacher: Papa, I know you feel terrified to see me go beyond 40 kmph and I often catch you clutching the edge of your seat, holding onto dear life. I solemnly swear to work twice as hard at not getting the two of us killed.  

Sincerely,
A.

 

This may be a gratitude malfunction.

Since I’m now over and done with school and I’m in that brilliant phase of life where I have no responsibilities, I’ve had a lot of time to sit and chew over my thoughts for hours at a stretch. And so it happened to occur to me that I must take out some time and write down a page of acknowledgements. This goes out to all those animate and inanimate objects which have helped me survive as a person in the suburban carnival where I’m forced to thrive. 

Dear Tubes of Super Glue, you were there for me when I broke the head of a wooden moose and also when I tried to make ornate wall hangings from sticks and leaves and feathers. You’ve been with me through broken vases and bed frames and even cliched science projects involving vinegar and baking soda and ultimate volcanic eruptions. My warmest and heartfelt thanks to you.

Special thanks are due to Olive + Peppermint Oils  for always helping me look earthly when my hair insisted on making me look like one of the background dancers in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. 

Coffee my love, you stood by me in sickness and in health. You helped keep me awake through hours of chemistry tuition. And you helped me pull all-nighters for school tests as well as Sherlock marathons. You enveloped me in your warmth and glory and so prevented me from punching people in their faces on Monday mornings. Peace be with you. 

And now over to my lovely Blanket. Ever since I abandoned the comfort of sleeping between my parents and sucking on my thumb, you’ve kept me safe through the night. Thank you for protecting me from all the monsters hiding under my bed. And from all the zombies, boogeymen, werewolves and phantoms in my closet.

Also, a huge gargantuan thank you to the Sugar-Coated Belgian Candies.  You taste AWFUL. And hence, you’ve helped me abstain from candy (and consequent calories) since 2007. You deserve applause. 

To my stack of Amar Chitra Kathas, you’ve encouraged light reading in the loo and often transported me to a glorious world where the devas and asuras are at war. I really love you for that. 

I guess in the end I must also thank my Family and Friends because you love me even though I didn’t put you at #1 on this list. :*